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Shopping guide for quick school lunches

It seems like summer just arrived but before you know it, school will be in full swing once again. Once you get the clothes shopping finished and all the notebooks bought, it’s time to think about school lunches. Stocking up ahead of time on lunch-packing supplies and non-perishable food items not only saves you money, it makes packing lunches quick and easy.

woman grocery shopping

If you have enough space in your kitchen, buy supplies in bulk to avoid having to restock every few weeks. When it comes to lunch food, purchase variety packs of canned and dried foods to keep lunches diverse and interesting.

It’s a wrap

Zipper-locked plastic bags cost a little more than the fold-top ones, but they are worth the extra money.

When they’re properly zipped, food won’t fall out into the sack or lunch box. Buy both sandwich and snack size bags for economical and ecological reasons. Frozen sandwiches are less likely to suffer from freezer burn and stay softer if you wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them in plastic bags.

Carry on

Brown paper lunch bags are lightweight and don’t have to be towed back home every day. However, they easily fall apart if frozen foods or ice packs are placed in them and the condensation penetrates the paper. Place frozen drinks and foods in sealed plastic bags to protect the paper. Soft-sided lunch bags protect foods better than bags and many have removable, reusable ice packs. Young kids fare better with paper bags they don’t have to worry about losing.

Food and drink

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches still rate high among lunchbox favorites. They are quick and easy to make and can be frozen for quick access on busy school mornings. Pair them with a variety of sweet spreads like honey, preserves, jams and marmalades… you can even try adding fresh fruit! For a quick alternative to homemade PB&Js, stock your freezer with different flavors of SMUCKER’S® Uncrustables® — with options like whole wheat bread and reduced sugar spreads, it’s an option moms can feel good about! Pack them frozen and they’ll be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.

Instead of dealing with bulky thermoses, freeze healthy beverages sold in cardboard single-serving containers and use them to keep food cold and safe. They’ll be frosty and drinkable for lunch.


Pack individual serving size containers of salads, fresh precut produce, dipping sauces and other favorites to jazz up school lunches. You can use reusable or disposable containers and pack them in the bag the night before. Plastic forks and spoons help kids eat their lunch without soiling their clothes. Don’t forget napkins and individually packaged wet wipes to clean up faces and hands.

No matter how early you get up on school mornings, time always seems to sneak up on you. Having enough bags, containers and premade lunch food on hand helps get the day off to a smooth, quick start. Use the extra time to put a cute note in the bag for a fun lunchtime surprise.

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Read more on school lunches

Hand-held favorites: Kid-approved meals to eat on-the-go
Freezable foods that will thaw by lunch time
Keeping your kids on healthy diets while at school

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